It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and I’m reading the original Jaws, which has had me thinking about our own experiences with sharks. I’m reaching way back in time – 5 years ago to be exact – to the one and only time we swam with sharks. Now, don’t get too excited. We weren’t doing anything really cool like cage diving with Great Whites or even swimming with whale sharks (which I hope we get to do soon!). But, we did indeed swim with sharks.
We were on our second trip to St. Maarten and having had such a great experience with the Lambada crew on our day sail to the deserted island of Prickly Pear the year before, we headed out with them again. After snorkeling along the reef and refueling with bar-b-que chicken for lunch, some of the Lambada crew mentioned they had spotted some small black tip reef sharks at the end of the island. We took left over chicken and set off to the end of the island where the sharks had been hanging around for the last few weeks.
At first we all stood at the water’s edge, tossing pieces of chicken into the water and watching the four or five sharks feed on our leftovers. After the chicken was all gone, the crew asked us if we wanted to snorkel with them. Heck yeah!
The sharks were likely just babies, each was only 1 to 2 feet long. They were harmless at that size. I think I was more worried about swimming into a sea urchin in the shallow water than getting bit by one of the sharks. The adults only grow to around 5 feet and are fairly timid around humans. So we strapped on our snorkels, eased slowly into the water, and snapped happily away while the young sharks swam along the rocks just inches below us.
We were smiling ear to ear as we walked with the Lambada crew back toward the rest of our group on the beach. Maybe one of these days we’ll cage dive with their big brothers, the Great Whites, in Shark Alley in South Africa. Until then, we still think this was a very cool experience to swim with the black tip reef sharks in their natural habitat.